escape, if you can get it
Every time I succeed in escaping what I think is the factor driving me nuts, I miss that factor once separated from it. I hate to be the kind of writer limited to writing only about my kids, but hey, when you ask me – a parent of a 4 year old and a 2 year old – to write about “escape”, what comes to mind is the factor that drives my need for escape in the first place.
My husband and I live in a state with no family around. There are no afternoons off or a quick trip to a movie or a night alone while the kids sleep at Grandmas. We experience most every waking minute amidst the blessings of our offspring. And that can drive us crazy.
So why, when I’m offered the opportunity to escape for a kid-less 5 days to a wedding in Detroit, do I yearn so badly for those kids by day 5? Some of it is my empathy for them missing their parents. “Oh no,” I think. “Our youngest will cry for us when it’s her first night in bed without us being the ones to kiss her good night. Oh poor Carina, how will she do day after day without us?” Well, I tell ya: they’re loved and happy with the grandparents we dropped them with and it’s a fact of life that we don’t always get what we want; they’ll adapt.
I call them on the first day of our trip, eager to get a sense of their mood. Assuaging slight fears of mine, their dolphin-like tones and laughter tell me they’re not aching. In fact, my 4 year old is excited to talk to someone else on the phone rather than me. Now I can truly escape in this world among new, wedding-reception friends.
I consider myself NOT the type of mom to sacrifice happiness and all independence in her own life for the upbringing of her kids. I want my kids to see me as a person as well as their mom. It sounds stupid, but those words would be a good reminder for some moms I know. Our kids know that mommy and daddy go to concerts, go swing dancing, have homework, invite friends over for dinner, and partake in such things that aren’t involved around them, around playdates.
So it comes as a surprise to myself when I yearn for my kids – and how ridiculous does that sound?! One could argue I’m NOT doing a good job as mom if I DIDN’T miss my kids. Point taken. But on the other hand, it’s sometimes hard to admit, even after 4 years, that I am emotionally tied to other humans (in addition to the hubby) that rule my life even during their absence.
This point is understood by any type-A work-a-holic who can’t leave his/her duties behind even on the beaches of a resort beneath an umbrella. Escape exists in various degrees in the digital age. A business woman can be on vacay but still very attached to work. However when my husband and I stay in Detroit for 5 days and only a few of those days include internet and almost one full day is spent involved in a wedding, it is very pleasantly easy to escape the reminders of children.
Life is so easy! We can do anything we want, at any time, with no attention to nap time, dinner time, or carrying an extra diaper and pants for those crazy assplosions. We’ve escaped! We did it! We’re untethered and can stay out late AND sleep-in – two things rarely in combination with a babysitter.
And with that easy life, I live for several days without even speaking to my kids. That sounds awful. But the focus is on LIVED – for the sanity of myself and with wonderful people. To live as a person and not as a mom is an escape in itself, regardless of the surroundings.
However, I wonder if others tire of their escape as quickly when kids are not involved? Probably not. Not that I tired of the freedom and good friends, but in my escape from my usual, never-sit-down-world, my kids’ faces and voices slowly crept into the reality surrounding me. By day 4 – as I serenely sat in a baseball stadium with an irregular-shaped plastic cup the size of my forearm containing a frozen strawberry daiquiri – I was ready to go home. I wasn’t used to life this is easy. It’s awesome and wonderful and fun, but I’ve become accustomed to a busy life with kids. Besides, I sure spend a lot more money this way.
Life isn’t meant to be this easy. Kids are incredibly rewarding for one reason because they are so incredibly challenging! My need for escape was met. The next day we hit the road and make the 10 hour drive in one straight shot with two short stops to empty bladders, fill the gas tank, and grab fast food. That which I was so anxious to escape from, became the very thing that drew me back.
When we arrive at the Grandparents’ near midnight, we listen to stories about the kids. (When our 4 year old was told to stop running water because it’s wasteful, she looked at Grandma and simply said, “Save money. Live simply. Walmart.” We hate Walmart.) The stories remind me how funny kids are, especially when you’re not the one doing the work. I tear up from laughter and fatigue.
The next morning my 4 year old cried up when she hugged me. She said “When I looked through the photo album I said, ‘Mommy and Daddy please come home.’ ” My little one couldn’t stop hugging me. By night-time bath, my patience had been tested several times and I was already telling myself to calm down.